"That game was taken from us," Bickerstaff said Sunday night. "We deserved to win it."
Bickerstaff was upset with what he thought was a major discrepancy in fouls. Cleveland was called for 28 to Philadelphia's 19 in a physical game with playoff-level intensity. The Sixers' Joel Embiid alone made 21 trips to the free throw line amid his 44-point performance.
"The one thing you can't defend is the free throw line, and that's absurd," Bickerstaff said, referring to the Sixers' 42 attempted foul shots (35 of which they made). "Our guys deserved way better than they got tonight."
Of Philly All-Stars Embiid and James Harden, Bickerstaff said: "They're great players, and they understand how to play through the rules. They know how to manipulate the rules. This is no knock or disrespect to those guys. But the game has to be consistent on both ends of the floor. We were searching for that consistency, and we never found it."
Cleveland was within 107-106 when Bickerstaff felt Darius Garland drew contact from Embiid while missing an off-balance layup with 15.2 seconds left.
"Darius was fouled," Bickerstaff said. "He did his job and got to a spot and got fouled. No whistle."
On the two-minute report released Monday, the league agreed with Bickerstaff and said Embiid should have been called for a foul.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.